Knight Commanders of the Order of the British Empire Actors (pre-1920)

by cartman_1337 | created - 06 May 2015 | updated - 21 May 2015 | Public

Which of these actors, born no later than 1920, awarded knighthood in the Order of the British Empire during their career is your favorite?

Also vote for your favorite Knight born after 1920 here.

Discuss here.

1. Alec Guinness

Actor | Star Wars

Alec Guinness was an English actor. He is known for his six collaborations with David Lean: Herbert Pocket in Great Expectations (1946), Fagin in Oliver Twist (1948), Col. Nicholson in The Bridge on the River Kwai (1957), for which he won the Academy Award for Best Actor), Prince Faisal in Lawrence...

2. Charles Chaplin

Writer | The Great Dictator

Considered to be one of the most pivotal stars of the early days of Hollywood, Charlie Chaplin lived an interesting life both in his films and behind the camera. He is most recognized as an icon of the silent film era, often associated with his popular character, the Little Tramp; the man with the ...

3. John Gielgud

Actor | Arthur

Born in London, England, John Gielgud trained at Lady Benson's Acting School and RADA, London. Best known for his Shakespearean roles in the theater, he first played Hamlet at the age of 26. He worked under the tutelage of Lilian Bayliss with friend and fellow performer Laurence Olivier and other ...

4. Laurence Olivier

Actor | Sleuth

Laurence Olivier could speak William Shakespeare's lines as naturally as if he were "actually thinking them", said English playwright Charles Bennett, who met Olivier in 1927.

Laurence Kerr Olivier was born in Dorking, Surrey, England, to Agnes Louise (Crookenden) and Gerard Kerr Olivier, a High ...

5. Anthony Quayle

Actor | The Guns of Navarone

Anthony Quayle was born in Ainsdale in September 1913, the son of a Lancashire lawyer. He completed his education at Rugby School and had a brief spell at RADA, before treading the boards for the first time as the straight man in a music hall comedy act in 1931. Tall, burly, round-faced and ...

6. C. Aubrey Smith

Actor | Rebecca

Movie roles are sometimes based upon what the audience expects to see. If the role called for the tall stereotypical Englishmen with the stiff upper lip and stern determination, that man would be C. Aubrey Smith, graduate of Cambridge University, a leading Freemason and a test cricketer for England...

7. Cedric Hardwicke

Actor | The Ten Commandments

Sir Cedric Hardwicke, one of the great character actors in the first decades of the talking picture, was born in Lye, England on February 19, 1893. Hardwicke attended the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art and made his stage debut in 1912. His career was interrupted by military service in World War I, ...

8. Bernard Miles

Actor | The Man Who Knew Too Much

The British character actor Bernard Miles was born in Uxbridge, Middlesex, England, in 1907; his father was a farm laborer and his mother was a cook. After graduation from Pembroke College, Oxford, he was a teacher for a while and then joined the New Theatre in London. In 1937, he worked in Herbert...

9. Ralph Richardson

Actor | Doctor Zhivago

Sir Ralph Richardson was one of the greatest actors of the 20th Century English-language theater, ascending to the height of his profession in the mid-1930s when he became a star in London's West End. He became the first actor of his generation to be knighted. He became Sir Ralph in 1947, and was ...

10. John Mills

Actor | The Family Way

Sir John Mills, one of the most popular and beloved English actors, was born Lewis Ernest Watts Mills on February 22, 1908, at the Watts Naval Training College in North Elmham, Norfolk, England. The young Mills grew up in Felixstowe, Suffolk, where his father was a mathematics teacher and his ...

11. Rex Harrison

Actor | My Fair Lady

Rex Harrison was born Reginald Carey Harrison in Huyton, Lancashire, England, to Edith Mary (Carey) and William Reginald Harrison, a cotton broker. He changed his name to Rex as a young boy, knowing it was the Latin word for "King". Starting out on his theater career at age 18, his first job at the ...

12. Bob Hope

Actor | The Ghost Breakers

Comedian Bob Hope was born Leslie Townes Hope in Eltham, London, England, the fifth of seven sons of Avis (Townes), light opera singer, and William Henry Hope, a stonemason from Weston-super-Mare, Somerset. His maternal grandmother was Welsh. Hope moved to Bristol before emigrating with his parents...

13. Douglas Fairbanks Jr.

Actor | The Prisoner of Zenda

Although he appeared in approximately 100 movies or TV shows, Douglas Fairbanks, Jr. never really intended to take up acting as a career. However, the environment he was born into and the circumstances naturally led him to be a thespian. Noblesse oblige.

He was born Douglas Elton Fairbanks, Jr. in ...

14. Michael Redgrave

Actor | The Lady Vanishes

Sir Michael Redgrave was of the generation of English actors that gave the world the legendary John Gielgud, Ralph Richardson and Laurence Olivier, Britain three fabled "Theatrical Knights" back in the days when a knighthood for thespian was far more rare than it is today. A superb actor, Redgrave ...

15. Norman Wisdom

Actor | Trouble in Store

Norman Wisdom has become the great British clown very much in the mould of Charles Chaplin with his "little man" in the ill fitting suit and cloth cap. His character is "everyman", much put upon but struggling through to a (usually) happy ending. He was brought up in an orphanage after his mother ...

16. Michael Hordern

Actor | Where Eagles Dare

Following a brief teaching career, Michael Hordern made his stage debut in 1937. He made his film debut in 1939, but his career was stalled by WWII. He resumed his acting career in 1946, both in theatre and films. He hit his stride in the 1960s playing befuddled characters, particularly stuffy ...

17. Spike Milligan

Actor | The Bed Sitting Room

Spike was born an 'Army Brat', the son of an Irish Captain in the British Raj in India. Educated in a series of Roman Catholic schools in India and at Lewisham Polytechnic in England, he spent his formative years playing the fool and playing the trumpet in local jazz bands.

He joined the British ...

18. Robert Helpmann

Actor | Chitty Chitty Bang Bang

Son of James Murray Helpmann & Mary (nee Gardiner), he was educated at Prince Alfred's College, Adelaide, South Australia. He first danced solo at the Theatre Royal, Adelaide in The Ugly Duckling in 1922. He went on to become the principal dancer at Sadlers Wells ballet from 1933 to 1950. World ...

19. Donald Wolfit

Actor | Lawrence of Arabia

One of the great British stage actors of his era Donald Wolfit was noted for his magnificent portrayals of King Lear and Tamburlaine. Yet no actor of his generation was surrounded by more controversy. He was temperamental and difficult to deal with, enraged by criticism and tyrannical with the ...

20. Noël Coward

Writer | In Which We Serve

Noel Coward virtually invented the concept of Englishness for the 20th century. An astounding polymath - dramatist, actor, writer, composer, lyricist, painter, and wit -- he was defined by his Englishness as much as he defined it. He was indeed the first Brit pop star, the first ambassador of "cool...

21. Seymour Hicks

Actor | Busman's Honeymoon

Seymour Hicks was an extremely successful actor and theatrical impresario who flourished from the late 19th century into the 1930s. He was best remembered for his portrayal of Ebenezer Scrooge in Charles Dickens' "A Christmas Carol".

Born on January 30, 1871 on the Isle of Jersey, he first trod the ...

22. John Clements

Actor | The Four Feathers

John Clements hailed from southern England and was educated at St Paul's School in London and St John's College, Cambridge. His acting aspiration prompted his first stage appearance at the Lyric Theatre, Hammersmith in 1930 in the play "Out of the Blue". Through the 1930s, he continued to develop ...

23. Godfrey Tearle

Actor | The 39 Steps

Godfrey Seymour Tearle was born in 1884, the son of British actor/manager George (Osmond) Tearle and American actress Marianne Conway (her second marriage). His father and uncle were first-generation acting Tearles, and his mother also came from a family of actors. It seems that Godfrey's destiny ...

24. Felix Aylmer

Actor | Hamlet

British character actor Felix Aylmer was educated at Oxford and later studied drama, making his stage debut at the London Coliseum in 1911. During World War I he served in the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve and resumed his stage career after the war ended. He entered films in 1930 and stayed in them...

25. Herbert Beerbohm Tree

Actor | King John

Herbert Beerbohm Tree was born on December 17, 1852 in Kensington, London, England as Herbert Draper Beerbohm. He was an actor and director, known for King John (1899), Henry VIII (1911) and The Tempest (1905). He was married to Lady Tree. He died on July 2, 1917 in Marylebone, London.

26. John Martin Harvey

Actor | The Only Way

When one thinks of the great English actors who have been knighted, one thinks of Henry Irving, the greatest actor of the middle-to-late Victorian period who became the first thespian to have a sovereign's sword patted on both shoulders in 1895, or the likes of

Laurence Olivier(acclaimed as the ...

27. George Robey

Actor | Chu-Chin-Chow

George Robey was born on September 20, 1869 in Herne Hill, London, England as George Edward Wade. He was an actor and writer, known for Chu-Chin-Chow (1934), Adventures of Don Quixote (1933) and One Arabian Night (1923). He was married to Blanche Littler (manager) and Ethel Haydon (performer). He ...

28. Gerald du Maurier

Actress | Lord Camber's Ladies

Sir Gerald Du Maurier was one of the top thespians on the English stage in the first third of the 20th Century, and his distinguished career as an actor-manager led to his being knighted by King George V in 1922. Born in Hampstead, London on March 26, 1873, he was the son anglo-French writer and ...

29. Nigel Playfair

Actor | Lady Windermere's Fan

When one thinks of the great English actors who have been knighted, one thinks of Sir Henry Irving, the greatest actor of the middle-to-late Victorian period who became the first thespian to have a sovereign's sword patted on both shoulders in 1895, or the likes of Sir Johnston Forbes-Robertson, ...

30. Lewis Casson

Actor | Saint Joan

Sir Lewis Casson was a British actor and theatrical director who was married to the legendary actress Dame Sybil Thorndike. He played a role in modernizing the British theatre, expanding it to embrace social critiques as well as new techniques, and was an advocate for a National Theatre.

Lewis was ...



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